Two months ago, Jenny Slate announced she would no longer voice Missy in Netflix’s Big Mouth, on the grounds that she is white and the character isn’t. Her replacement has now been announced: writer, producer, and actor Ayo Edebiri.
Here are the details:
- Edebiri will voice Missy from the penultimate episode of the show’s fourth season, whose release date has yet to be confirmed. She has also joined the writers’ room for season five. Big Mouth has been renewed through season six.
- “I was definitely a very uncomfortable child,” Edebiri told Variety, “so I think the show speaks to that and a lot of those feelings, which still resonate with me as an adult.” Having joined the writing team first, she said that experience “helped with the comfort level” when auditioning.
- Edebiri has written for NBC’s Sunnyside and Apple TV+’s Dickinson (in which she also acts). She’s a producer on Netflix’s Mulligan, an upcoming post-apocalyptic animated comedy from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and will voice the lead role in the animated Netflix series We Lost Our Human. She’s also a stand-up comedian and podcast host.
- When Slate stepped away from Big Mouth, she wrote, “At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play ‘Missy’ because her mom is Jewish and White — as am I. But ‘Missy’ is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.”
- Slate’s decision was mirrored by similar announcements that white actors would stop voicing characters of color on The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Central Park. On the latter show, Kristen Bell has been replaced by Emmy Raver-Lampman as the voice of Molly.
- Big Mouth co-creator Nick Kroll told Variety that having a black actor voice Missy will allow the show to “tell more nuanced stories about Missy’s identity.” He added that the character was initially conceived as “a dorky girl who happens to be Black,” but the writers have increasingly explored her blackness over the years.